BEMIDJI -- Mark Fodness announced Tuesday that he is retiring as head coach of the Bemidji State women’s tennis team.
The 1982 BSU graduate helmed his alma mater for seven years, beginning in 2013. Prior to taking the BSU job, Fodness had become a fixture in the local tennis scene, coaching both the Bemidji High School boys and girls teams.
“I already enjoyed my high school experience a lot,” Fodness said, “so it was really fun to get the opportunity to coach not only at my former school, but in a sport that I really enjoy, and that I felt was a challenge to try to help the program be successful.”
After going 1-13 in his first season, Fodness quickly turned around the team’s fortunes in his second season, leading the Beavers to an 8-8 mark. The program has experienced only one losing season since. It has achieved winning seasons of 10 or more wins in each of the last four years, including a program-record 12 victories in 2017 and finishing as high as fourth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in 2018. Bemidji State earned NSIC postseason berths all four years, advancing to the tournament semifinals in 2018.
Fodness finishes his BSU coaching career with a 58-55 record.
“A lot of it comes down to recruiting at the college level,” Fodness said of the team’s turnaround during his tenure. “We didn’t always have the resources to bring in the top kids, but we were able to bring in kids that were really high character and hard-working athletes who always, I think, wanted to get better, and really bought into the way we did things.”
“Mark Fodness has made a tremendous impact on the Bemidji State tennis program,” BSU Director of Athletics Tracy Dill said in a news release. “His work ethic and tireless dedication to each member of the team is evident in the individual and program successes over the course of his time here.”
“There is no doubt that he is a great coach and is leaving the program better than when he arrived,” added Dill. “I would like to thank him for all he has done for BSU and wish him the best in retirement.”
Fodness announced his retirement from coaching the BHS girls tennis team earlier this month. His son, Kyle Fodness, was named as his replacement last week. The elder Fodness plans to continue coaching the Lumberjack boys team this spring.
“Just like I will be with the high school (girls team), I’ll definitely be spending some time helping with the (BSU) team and helping with the new coach take over,” said Fodness, while adding he looks forward to having extra time off in the fall. “... It just kind of made sense to me to retire from both programs at the same time.”
During Fodness’ tenure, 23 tennis players have landed on the NSIC All-Academic Team and 17 have been selected for all-conference honors, including five-time All-NSIC pick Zoë Lindgren, who graduated this year as the program’s all-time wins leader.
“For me the biggest thing will be missing a great team, and a really good group of kids coming back,” Fodness said. “Just all of the good experiences through the years. There’s really a lot of great coaches and athletes who are very committed at Bemidji State, and so I’ll miss working with people like that for sure.”